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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Fairbanks Flats (Gorman & Co. photo, 2009)

Fairbanks Flats (Gorman & Co. photo, 2009)

Fairbanks Flats (Gorman & Co. photo, 2009)

Fairbanks Flats
205, 215 Birch Avenue & 206, 216 Carpenter Avenue, Beloit, Rock County
Architect: unknown
Date of Construction: 1917

Fairbanks Flats are a rare example of segregated company housing, the only known community housing built exclusively for black workers in Wisconsin. During an era of rapid industrial growth, private corporations played an important role in community planning. Fairbanks Morse, an engine manufacturer, was Beloit's largest employer. Increased production during World War I attracted hundreds of African American workers from the southern US. Morse proposed to house these workers in bunker-like flats north of the existing working class community.

This plan raised issues of racial conflict and segregation. Eclipse Home Makers, Inc., a specially organized subsidiary, purchased land on the west side of the Rock River in hopes to "contain" the large number of blacks in one place on the outskirts of town. Despite official concern and private pleas, Fairbanks Morse continued plans for development of the flats.

The Fairbanks Flats consist of four identical buildings with six two-story units in each. The buildings are a severe utilitarian concrete block construction, excluding all ornamentation. The concentration of these black workers in the flats created the nucleus of Beloit's black community. The Fairbanks Morse company housing plan helped shape future housing and settlement patterns in the city.

The flats are private residences; please respect the privacy rights of the owners.

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